Compulsive hoarding is a mental disorder that is just beginning to be understood. As a hoarder, I have acquired things over the years with a specific purpose in mind at the time of the acquisition, used some of those items for their intended purposes, forgotten the goal for different objects, but now that I find that they have outlived their purpose in my life I am struggling to rid myself of those same things.

You can read the start of my journey here.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I am a rock. I am an island.

When I was little, I was fascinated by rocks, pebbles, stones. You name it, and I loved it. Not all of them, mind you. There had to be something special about them that caught my eye. Perhaps a little marbling of colors, the sparkle of quartz, the shape, or the beauty of agate. I loved smooth rocks. I liked the way they felt in my hand. I liked how they would skip across water. And I loved to paint them, so they looked like an insect. I was just as likely, if not more so than my brothers to have rocks or pebbles in my pockets come wash day.

I walked a mile or so to school every day, so I had plenty of rocks to examine on my way home or on the way to school. For years, I collected them. It was something all of my family did to a degree. Mom and Dad went agate hunting many times over the years. Sometimes it was a date with just the two of them. Other times it was a family occasion. Daddy found one agate in particular that was absolutely beautiful and had it cut, polished, and made into a pendant necklace for Mom. She still wears it from time to time.

I remember spending many hours at my elementary school trying to dig out one little rock or the other that had caught my eye on the playground. I don't know that I was ever successful. If I was, it certainly wasn't a regular occurence. Asphalt isn't very forgiving of the gems it envelopes before hardening. Not even the marbles we would find while sitting in the boundaries of the yellow Four Square pattern while playing house or talking with friends were loosed of the asphalt's tight grip. A little girl with plenty of determination still wasn't strong enough to win out.

Tonight, as I was trying to clean out some of the stuff in Hopper's room, I happened across a rock. It was in with some craft things that I had sorted. It was a charcoal gray - dark on it's own, but it would easily be black, if it were to be wet. It was smooth but porous. It reminded me of lava rock, but not quite that porous and not nearly as rough. It was about 2" long, 1 1/4" wide and no more than a 1/2" thick. I left it to deal with last, as I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it. It had all the qualities of a good rock. The kind of rock that drew my eye when I was a child and even grabs my attention now.

I had thought of just tossing it outside, but we don't have a lot of rocks out there. At least not intentionally. And this could make quite the mess, if it was picked up and thrown by the lawnmower. I considered putting it in a potted plant, but we really don't have any large plants, and it would look really out of place in a small one. However, the thought that kept coming back to my mind over and over again was that it would be so much fun to paint.

Perhaps to turn it into a ladybug, a bumble bee or even a smiley face. You see, if it were painted, if it looked cute and like a little bug, it wouldn't matter what size pot it was in. It would show under the edge of the plant, and it would sit there patiently waiting to be admired. It would be really cute, if Hopper and Scooter painted it. Or maybe I'd get some more rocks. I'd go for a walk with the girls and scour a pathway like I did when I was a little girl, and we'd collect rocks, and we'd bring them home and paint them. I'd make sure they were weatherproofed, so they could sit out in the flower garden to be admired and the paint wouldn't fade. Yeah. That's an idea!

Then, like a car screeching to a halt after the driver saw the 'Road Washed Out Ahead' sign, I started seeing the danger in my thinking. I quickly realized that I have no idea when I would be able to get the paints out and have a rock painting party. It's just not on the priority list that I have running through my mind on a continual basis. Then I started imagining boxes with nothing but rocks in them waiting for me to get to them. To make them pretty. To make them mine. Shoot. I already have boxes that are literally filled with shells from the beaches we've been to. I can hardly lift them. I can't imagine trying to lift a box of rocks.

After arguing with myself all evening on the pros and cons of keeping the rock, I threw it away. I then promptly took it out of the trash.


I did finally just leave it in the trash, and I'm sincerely hoping I forget about it when I go work in Hopper's room again. I fear I may try to reclaim it. Even as I write this, I find myself torn and wanting to go dig it out and save it. To make sure it has a good home. To make that home be mine, where I can enjoy it. Where my children can enjoy it.

I know. It makes absolutely no logical sense at all.


  1. You know, it doesn't make sense, you're right about that. But it sort of DOES make sense... we have boxes of rocks (Eric's) in the shed. Those rocks have moved with us for the last 30 years. And they're still in the boxes.

  2. I used to love shiny pretty rocks as well, and at least while you are thinking about it you are proccessing the whole deal, not justy "the I would like to keep this one rock" you are doing very well

  3. I used to fill my backpack with rocks and drag it home every day. I still don't know why.

  4. I also liked rocks that were different in some way. I have a few from Newfoundland and a couple from New Brunswick. Cool rocks that are somewhere around this house. I even brought some bigger rocks back from Cape Cod. In Florida we have a lot of sand but if you want any rocks, you buy them!

  5. I cannot tell you how helpful it is for me to read your posts. Reading your thinking process through this rock dilemma helps me realize I'm not alone. Recently my (adult) son was visiting, helping me go through and sort stuff. He brought me a lamp we used in his nursery. It had a base with a clown holding plastic balloons, which each held a small light bulb. Somehow one of the plastic balloons had melted so I was able to say "yes, toss that" with ease. The base, however...I pictured it washed, with a new, plain lampshade, something I could use when/if I ever have grandchildren and they come to stay. I could tell them it was their daddy's lamp and it would bring back such happy memories....screech. Halt. Stop. After patiently waiting through my rationalizations, my son finally said, "yard sale pile?" I channeled your posts, held strong, and said - YES.

    Thank you.

  6. My son's collect rocks. They have a peanut butter jar filled with a lid. When they want a new one, they must sort thru the old ones, clean out, and make room for the new. It's a way of prioritizing their needs, allowing them to collect, but also keep a handle on it. Our family genes of extreme hoarding and also extreme minimalizm are not ones I want to pass on to them, and this method helps us keep it in check.

    Keep up your good work. -J

  7. Ami...We have shells that we've moved from town to town and home to home for the last 24 years, ourselves. I always think I'm going to do something with them, but they're probably all sand at this point!

    Fern...Thanks. :)

    BN...If you ever find out why...let me know. :)

    Portia...That's totally wild! inland like we do we have lots of rocks and not so many shells. ;O)

  8. Michelle...Good for you! It's amazing how many different ideas for the thing I'm trying to make a decision about float through my head before I actually declare one a winner! And I do the same thing with the kids' toys and clothes from when they were younger. It's so easy to justify keeping things because of their sentimental value. Especially, when I have a picture in my head of how it would be to see our grandchildren in their clothes or playing with their toys.

    Congratulations on making the decision about the lamp. I know how hard it can be, but sometimes just making that first decision makes future decisions much easier. And it helps to hear from you for me to know I'm not alone, either. Thanks for stopping by! :)

  9. Julianna...That's a great idea to help them keep things in perspective and also keep them from going in either extreme direction.

    And we have both extremes in our families as well. Hubster's mom gets rid of EVERYTHING. She sent an envelope with pictures of the hubby when he was a little one a few years ago. There were less than a dozen pictures total. In many ways, I find that sad. At the same time, I have siblings who also can't stand having anything extra around and live with very little. I really do think they're opposites of the same condition.

  10. I love this post because I had a rock collection with I was little....


Welcome to The Closet. Feel free to take off your coat, hang it up, if you can find the space, and sit a spell. I just love your visits. :)